Forever Chairman

Akere Tabeng MUNA

July 27, 2023


Once in a while, an ordinary man rises from the sea of mundane existence and sets sail on a journey of extraordinary proportions. He may not possess any superpowers or adorn any paraphernalia that distinguishes or sets him aside as special. His prowess slowly emerges as his actions begin to speak louder than the words of the many who are portrayed as extraordinary. This man, with humble beginnings and an indomitable spirit, defied the norms and blazed a trail of change and inspiration. This man was Ni John Fru Ndi: An ordinary who accomplished extraordinary things.

In a country in which mediocrity often reigns supreme, and in which the one-party system had become sacred, Ni John Fru Ndi dared to dream bigger, think bolder, and act with unwavering determination. He saw the potential where very many decided to lay low and only contemplate their limitations. The law on the formation of a political party had been enacted in the most ambiguous terms. As a matter of fact, that 1967 Law on Associations had been passed under pressure from the West Cameroon Legislature. When the project of fusing political parties was beginning to crystalize, Anglophones who had mastered the
functioning of multi-party politics and who during the days of Southern Cameroon witnessed, regime change through peaceful elections, were worried that the one-party state was going to shut the door on the freedom to form political parties. The architects of the one-party project deceitfully said, no, and produced the guarantee which is what became the 1967 Law on Associations. This law had a ruse embedded in it. The formation of a political party was authorized. Nevertheless, the details of how one was created was to be determined an enabling decree. That never happened. This was the setback that Ni John Fru Ndi turned into a steppingstone in 1990. Therein lies his greatness. His relentless pursuit of certain ideals that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

So, through this unwavering dedication, he challenged the political norms of the day and revolutionized the way we perceive success. He refused to conform to stereotypes or settle for the status quo. Instead, he opted to spark innovation, creativity, and compassion that resonate to this very day. At the time, though many laughed at his audacity to strive for the impossible, he remained undeterred. He strongly believed that if he was persistent, the ripple effect of his actions was
going to create waves of positive change in Cameroon. And so, it did. His contagious enthusiasm infected those around him, inspiring them to break free from their comfort zones and embrace the potential that Cameroon and the Cameroonians have. His score in the 1992 presidential elections were phenomenal because it clearly suggested that the Anglophone, Francophone cleavage was slowly being overcome. A unilingual English-speaking Cameroonian could actually become President of a Cameroon that was overwhelmingly French-speaking. Just maybe, the roots of the debacle our nation faces today can be traced to our failure to seize that moment in history.

The message of Ni John Fru Ndi’s life cannot be more relevant at this moment in the history of our nation. Here we are again at the crossroads of this history, without him physically. The lesson of his life is there for all of us to imbibe. The future of our country will not be about grand gestures or boundless resources; it will be about the courage to step outside of our comfort zones and make a difference.
So, let us celebrate Ni John Fru Ndi, an ordinary man who reminds us that heroism is not reserved for fictional characters or those who proclaim themselves as extraordinary. He has shown us that every person has the capacity to leave an indelible mark on the world. He is gone but leaves us, with the challenge to unleash our own extraordinary potential and become the heroes of our own stories. Yes, that of ordinary men achieving extraordinary things. Go gently, and rest in perfect peace Ni john.

Akere Tabeng MUNA
July 20, 2023.

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